Stephen Fries: Fun and functional gifts for foodies
Updated 12:08 am, Wednesday, November 29, 2017
Time sure flies.
It seems as if it was only yesterday when I went through my file of notes and brochures of items I find at various trade shows that would make the perfect gift for the foodies in your life and perhaps for you, too. Here we are again; Thanksgiving was last week, and while feasting on that turkey, many were anticipating the “love it” or “hate it” shopping frenzy that arrives with this season.
Hanukkah begins the evening of Dec. 12, and Christmas is only a few days after that. I am sure some of these gifts and gadgets will put a smile on the face of recipients.
Best wishes to you this holiday season and let the shopping begin. Check with WAVE, 1046 Chapel St., New Haven, 203-782-6212, to find out which of these gifts they are carrying. They are available at the websites listed.
Stay tuned. Next week I will recommend cookbooks for those on your gift list. You are bound to find one you will want to add to your own shelf, too.
This product was a hit a couple of years ago, now they are back with new flavors. A mother-and-son team combined two different loves, baking and craft beer and added their creativity to make a simple, delicious loaf of bread. The result.
Soberdough Brew Bread . Simply add 12 ounces of beer to any of the all-natural mixes, stir and bake for 45 minutes. Check out the website www.soberdough.com for suggestions of which beer (or non-alcoholic recommendation) work best for each of the 12 mixes. Just in time for the season are: gingerbread loaf, cinnamon swirl, cranberry orange and chocolate cherry. Savory mixes include green chili cheddar, New York Rye and sun dried tomato.
Grub Mugs by Fred & Friends, are a set of four recipe mugs (breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert) that will expand the culinary palate while satisfying those late night (or early morning) munchies. Perfect for singles, students or anyone in need of a meal in a minute or two. Each microwaveable and dishwasher-safe porcelain mug is printed with four tasty recipes. No stove? No problem with these. http://bit.ly/2zDz8ze
Can Bech Signature Pairings for Cheese gift box include five delicious sweet sauces made with fruits, nuts and spices from all over the world and specially created for pairing with cheese. Golden apples caramelized with tender pistachios from Turkey and Sri Lanka cinnamon for pairing with hard paste cheese. Raspberries with rose petals and Szechuan pepper for pairing with fresh and soft cheeses. Black figs with Australian macadamia nuts and Jamaican allspice for pairing with blue cheeses. Peaches with Goji berries and Guatemalan cardamom pairs well with soft ripened cheeses. Black grapes with Majorcan almonds for pairing with soft paste and washed rind cheese. Pick up some suggested cheese and this gift set for the perfect host/hostess gift. http://bit.ly/2mlLTts
Wellness Teas by The Spice Lab offer a soothing, natural way to take a break from life’s hectic times and enjoy the comforting benefits of a delicious cup of tea. Serenity, De-Stress, Cold-B-Gone, Calming, Recovery and Energy teas, packed in bottles with a wooden spoon are carefully crafted with herbs and spices that have been used since ancient times for health and wellness. Call 954-275-4478 to order.
Popcornopolis ’ red snowflake five-cone gift basket, is beautifully wrapped and ready to give or shipped to those popcorn lovers on your gift list. www.popcornopolis.com 1-800-767-2489. The five, all-time top selling flavors that made the company famous are: caramel corn, kettle corn, cheddar cheese, cinnamon toast and my favorite, Zebra (caramel popcorn striped with fine dark and white confectioners chocolate). They are certified gluten-free, made from non-GMO corn and contain 0g trans-fat.
Michael Steifman founded Stuart & Co. http://bit.ly/2ADfxNH offers small batch food products, one of them being his line of spice blends. Starting out as a boutique catering company and expanding into a small-batch artisanal brand, Stuart & Co. has kept the great food that made them famous while continuing to innovate to bring fresh and delicious flavors to market. A-Salted barbecue blend is perfect for making a slow roasted brisket or chili. Marshall’s Curry on grilled shrimp will wake up the palate. Add No.5 to pork loin or turkey. Deviled eggs and sweet potatoes are taken up a notch with Mr. Fancy’s. Smoky’s House adds great flavor to a rotisserie chicken, or Brussels sprouts, and is used to prepare Michael’s recipe for potato salad.
Smash and Rub Potato Salad
2 pounds red bliss potatoes, scrubbed
1 bunch scallions, finely chopped
2 cups mayonnaise
3 tablespoons Smoky’s House Spice Blend
Salt and pepper
Rinse the potatoes well under cold water and scrub with a vegetable brush. You can peel them if you like but I prefer some skin in mine. Cut potatoes into bite-sized pieces and place in a pot of heavily salted cold water. Bring potatoes to a boil and simmer until completely cooked. You should be able to pierce the potato with little to no resistance. Meanwhile, clean and chop the scallions. Some people only use the green part, but I use it all. When the potatoes are cooked, strain in a colander and drain any excess water for about five minutes, then place in a mixing bowl in the fridge until they are cool enough to handle. Once the potatoes are cool enough to handle, add the mayo, scallions, and spice rub. Using a wooden spoon, potato masher or your clean hands mash and mix all the ingredients until well combined. The key to this is to use just enough mayo to taste it and bind everything together without it being liquidy. Once it is all mixed, adjust the seasoning to your liking and chill until ready to serve. I prefer my potato salad to be room temperature and not ice cold. The flavors are much bolder and exciting.
Lovers of all things handmade will enjoy the Farm Steady Everything Bagel and cream cheese-making kit as well as the Soft Pretzel and beer cheese-making kits. For the first kit, a SOFI award winner at the Fancy Food Show, the gift recipient gets to rope, loop and boil everything spice bagels at home. Followed with a schmear of homemade cream cheese for a classic New York-style delicacy no matter where they live. The soft-pretzel lover will prepare a dozen and dip them in homemade cultured beer cheese to recreate the ultimate bar snack. The perfect kit for entertaining. www.brooklynbrewshop.com
Playfully packaged in a wine bottle-inspired sprayer, Château Spill is an all-natural way to remove the toughest stains, like red wine, berries and more. The pH neutral formula contains only 100 percent biodegradable surfactants — no peroxide, chlorine, or phosphates. Château Spill works best on fresh stains before they’ve had a chance to set. Use it on washable, colorfast fabrics and it immediately starts breaking down the stain-forming pigment at the cellular level. This hard-working stain remover is the perfect party guest. Why not include a bottle with a gift of red wine? http://bit.ly/2AGtsmh
Rackpack is reminiscent of a wooden birdhouse, the Rackpack is a wine box and storage rack in one. Made of pine, the Rackpack makes a great alternative to wine gift bags. In addition to helping your bottle stand apart from other host and hostess gifts, it can be transformed from a carrier to a wooden wine rack with the simple flip of a few hinges. It can be reconfigured several different ways for storing three, six, or even 12 bottles of wine. http://bit.ly/1N7rXA2
Peel an egg without pulling your hair out with The Negg hard-boiled egg peeler. Cold water and some shaking is all it takes for this hardboiled egg peeler to work. It’s a Made in the USA kitchen hero that conquers a dreaded chore sleekly. Maker Bonnie Tyler signed up to bring deviled eggs to a party and — after a failed attempt at peeling — showed up with a bag of potato chips instead. After some prototyping and research at her local library, she cracked a solution. Bonnie combined the elements of industrial peeling (i.e., vibration, movement, and water) to create something small, portable, and easy to use at home. That’s how The Negg was hatched. She even managed to get it manufactured in Connecticut, her own backyard. Now you can de-shell your eggs with just cold water and a little bit of effort. http://bit.ly/2jnK8L2
Send us your requests: Which restaurant recipes or other recipes would you like to have? Which food products are you having difficulty finding? Do you have cooking questions? Send them to me. Contact Stephen Fries, professor and coordinator of the Hospitality Management Programs at Gateway Community College, at email@example.com or Dept. FC, Gateway Community College, 20 Church St., New Haven, 06510. Include your full name, address and phone number. Due to volume, I might not be able to publish every request. For more, go to stephenfries.com.
Wine101: Blind Wine Tasting, Thursday, 6:30 to 8 p.m., Wine 101, 1220 Whitney Ave., Hamden. 475-202-6657. $20 includes tasting, class, cheese and crackers and a “homework” bottle. Does knowing a grape, label, producer, price or country of origin really influence your taste or perception of quality in a wine? Blind-tasting not only helps us understand more about what we like, but also about the origin of what is in your glass. Must be 21+ to attend. Tickets at http://bit.ly/2jt45A0
Consiglio’s Murder Mystery Dinner — “Give … Til it Hurts!” Dec. 1 or Dec. 15, doors at 6 p.m., dinner and show at 7, Consiglio’s Restaurant, 165 Wooster St., New Haven, reservations at 203-865-4489, http://bit.ly/2cyB02Y $55 includes dinner and show (beverages, tax and gratuity not included). An interactive comedy show that goes on as you dig into a three-course dinner.
“Chefs of Our Kitchen” Reception and Dinner: Dec. 6, 6 p.m., Gateway Community College, 20 Church St. (parking validated for the Temple Street Garage; bring ticket), 203-285-2617, $70. Gateway Community College Foundation welcomes Chef John Barricelli owner of SoNo Baking Co. Bakery & Cafe in Norwalk. Enjoy a wine and hors d’oeuvres reception and dinner while watching the chef demonstrate three recipes from his book, The SoNo Baking Company Cookbook: The Best Sweet and Savory Recipes for Every Occasion. Guests will receive a copy of the book to be signed at the reception. The recipes demonstrated will be prepared and then served by Gateway Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management students. Tickets at http://bit.ly/2j24HH9
Bourbons — Food — Cigars and Fire, Dec. 7, 6:30-9:30pm. Guilford Mooring, 505 Whitfield St., Guilford. 203-458-2921 www.guilfordmooring.com $75 per person, not including tax and tip. A donation of $5 from each ticket sale will benefit the Make a Wish Foundation. Reservations are required. Held in conjunction with Litchfield Distillery and the Owl Shop, the four-course dinner will be paired with bourbons and cocktails from the distillery. Each bourbon has been paired with a cigar from New Haven’s Owl Shop. Food courses include: Slow Cooked Ribs, Lightly Blackened Shrimp, Dry Rub Smoked Brisket and Maple Walnut Gelato. Tickets at: http://bit.ly/2hu7Dhc